Native faunal communities depend on habitat from non-native plants in novel but not in natural ecosystems

Jasmin Packer, Steve Delean, C Kueffer, J Prider, K Abley, JM Facelli, Susan Mary Carthew

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Invasive non-native plants are a major driver of native biodiversity loss, yet native biodiversity can sometimes benefit from non-native species. Depending on habitat context, even the same non-native species can have positive and negative effects on biodiversity. Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) is a useful model organism to better understand a non-native plant with conflicting impacts on biodiversity. We used a replicated capture-mark-recapture study across 11 consecutive seasons to examine the response of small mammal diversity and abundance to vegetation structure and density associated with non-native blackberry (R. anglocandicans) in native, hybrid and blackberry-dominated novel ecosystems in Australia. Across the three habitat types, increasing blackberry dominance had a positive influence on mammal diversity, while the strength and direction of this influence varied for abundance. At a microhabitat scale within hybrid and native habitat there were no significant differences in diversity, or the abundance of most species, between microhabitats where blackberry was absent versus dominant. In contrast, in novel ecosystems diversity and abundances were very low without blackberry, yet high (comparable to native ecosystems) within blackberry as it provided functionally-analogous vegetation structure and density to the lost native understory. Our results indicate the ecological functions of non-native plant species vary depending on habitat and need to be considered for management. Comparative studies such as ours that apply a standardized approach across a broad range of conditions at the landscape and habitat scale are crucial for guiding land managers on control options for non-native species (remove, reduce or retain and contain) that are context-sensitive and scale-dependent.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)503-523
    Number of pages21
    JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2016


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